Gabriel Attal Breaks Barriers as France’s Youngest and First Openly Gay Prime Minister
French leader Emmanuel Macron has appointed Gabriel Attal as the new prime minister, making the 34-year-old the youngest and the first openly gay head of government in France’s history.
The decision follows the resignation of Elisabeth Borne, 62, who stepped down after serving less than two years in office. Macron’s reshuffling of the cabinet is viewed as a critical step ahead of the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris and the European Parliament elections, where his centrist forces face the challenge of far-right opposition led by Marine Le Pen.
Gabriel Attal, a popular figure in the government known for his brief but impactful tenure at the education ministry, sees his appointment as a symbol of “audacity and movement.” His inauguration took place during an official ceremony at the prime minister’s residence in Paris, emphasizing a commitment to transformation and progress.
In a departure from Borne’s austere style, Attal is expected to bring a change of tone and style to the office. While Borne earned respect from colleagues, Attal’s popularity among the public, particularly after his time in the education ministry, is seen as a potential asset for Macron’s administration.
Macron expressed confidence in Attal’s ability to bring back the spirit of bold change that characterized the early days of his presidency in 2017. However, the elevation of the 34-year-old prime minister has sparked discussions about his potential future political ambitions, including the 2027 presidential elections.
Despite the emphasis on youth and energy, some skeptics, such as the conservative daily Le Figaro, caution that “youth does not create a program.” There are concerns that Attal’s promotion may also be a strategic move in the lead-up to the 2027 presidential race.
Attal wasted no time in assuming his new role, undertaking a visit to areas in northern France affected by repeated flooding. During the visit, he expressed solidarity with the affected residents and promised “exceptional resources” for rebuilding.
Opposition leaders, including Jean-Luc Melenchon and Marine Le Pen, responded with skepticism, portraying Macron as a “presidential monarch ruling alone with his court.” Le Pen questioned the expectations from yet another change in leadership, stating that the French people can “expect nothing.”
The appointment of Attal, known by some fellow ministers as “young Gabriel,” had been anticipated, though the delay in the announcement fueled speculation about internal government tensions. However, sources close to ministers, including Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, denied any dissatisfaction.
As Macron faces challenges, including protests against pension reforms and controversies over immigration legislation, the reshuffle is seen as crucial to revitalizing his centrist presidency. With Macron unable to seek re-election in 2027, the move is also viewed as a preemptive strategy to position the administration for the upcoming European elections in June.
Gabriel Attal’s appointment is perceived as part of an “offensive strategy” for the European elections, according to constitutional expert Benjamin Morel, signaling Macron’s commitment to navigating the challenges and securing a robust legacy for his administration in its final three years.